For some time, there has been an initiative called Proton, derived from wine, and this helps launch Windows-native games on Linux after installing them legitly from Steam. As this project is maturing, even mere mortals like me can get Windows games up and running on Linux.
After enabling Steam Beta, it's even possible to run games that are not even white-listed.
There's a collective effort to list experiences of working games at https://www.protondb.com/ with tips on how to get them running.
Promises of having Linux versions of Witcher 3, GTA V, No Man's Sky etc. made this look credible and I felt need to get on board too despite not wanting to play exactly these games.
|Xpand Rally, perhaps a bit lame title, but it's a Steam-purchased Windows title running smoothly on Linux!|
This was an encouraging experience, and although Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light did not work, learning it was a DRM issue was also reassuring.
One of the games that got me interested in gaming in the 2010s was Elite: Dangerous, the ambitious, Kickstarter-famous sequel to Elite and Frontier. But I never got around to playing it as I did not have a suitable Windows computer.
But now, with Proton it's possible. Elite is not one of the whitelisted games and judging by the community's efforts, it was not one that would run very easily, despite comments:
But the bottom line here was that Proton itself need no longer be built from scratch for ED and the game itself can be run through Steam.
|The game launcher window, prior to launching the actual game client window.|
After I updated the nvidia drivers to version 430 (from 3xx), I could get something visible:
|No, that's not a sun, just a ringed planet.|
However at this point I was quite certain the game could be made to work. The above screen was a result of having a wrong (sub-4) version of wine installed, and generally not paying too much attention to the tips.
In the meantime I messed up my Linux Mint 19 installation, wrecking Python 2.7. This I found out when trying to fix something that prevented 'apport' from upgrading in the update manager, losing the Mint main menu in the process.
I doubt it was the result of following the ED install instructions, it's probably I got the bright idea of removing some crucial package at some point.
At the darkest moment I considered reinstalling the whole system, but eventually I was able to remove and re-install enough packages by hand and with synaptic, to get the system on rails again.
What I learned from this that Linux Mint is quite dependent on Python in many places.
Getting it to work
After this, I went back and followed the instructions (https://github.com/redmcg/wine/wiki) more precisely, getting the right versions of stuff.
I installed wine-staging instead of wine, and then winetricks, needed by protontricks. I then ran protontricks 359320 dotnet40 win7 again in the terminal and now I got much better results:
|Windowed, lower resolution|
In its 1920 x 1200 glory, the game appears to work very well and smoothly on the 1050 GPU. Possible exceptions are some of the station/docking scenes where there is more stuff on-screen.
But Elite is by no means a new game anymore, so such good results could be expected. I'll probably talk about Elite: Dangerous more in the future, given that I can now compare it to my experiences with Everspace.
|Full screen 1920 x 1200 resolution|
It may be helpful to reboot the computer but then again not, sometimes I felt I just needed to kill the process and run it again from the launcher. This is just to say that the "black screen" after the game launcher screen might not be decisive.
I wish I could have included a step-by-step history of all the tiny things that needed to be done to get this up and running, but I just can't remember it all anymore.
The instructions at the wiki seem innocent enough at first, but in order to install something, often a couple of other things needed fixing, installing or re-installing. This would initiate a cascade of activities that all needed to be done before the first step could be completed. But I can't stress enough that the instructions need to be followed quite precisely, or you may end up wasting time on a half-made install.